Chavalit backs deep South peace talks
The government is on the right track in attempting to resolve southern unrest through peace talks with insurgent groups, former prime minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh said on Saturday.
- Published: 9/03/2013 at 01:45 PM
- Newspaper section: topstories
Gen Chavalit said he agreed with the decision by the National Security Council (NSC) to sign an agreement to enter peace talks with the militant group Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN).
Lt Gen Paradorn Pattanatabutr, the NSC secretary-general, signed the agreement with Hassan Taib, chief of the BRN liaison office in Malaysia, in Kuala Lumpur on Feb 28.
Gen Chavalit: Government on the right track.
The former premier said discussion was the first step toward an acceptable solution to the problems in the far South.
Critics of the government's approach say there are several militant groups in the deep South and that holding talks with the BRN alone would not achieve much. However, Gen Chavalit said authorities must hold talks with one insurgent group at a time.
It is not possible for the government to hold talks with all militant groups at the same time, he added.
Asked whether he would join with security authorities in discussions with the insurgent groups, Gen Chavalit said he had no idea for the moment.
Gen Chavalit said he believed those responsible for negotiations with the insurgent groups and their advisers were all capable people and therefore it would be better for him to stay on the sidelines.
He expressed optimism that good things would happen in the three southernmost provinces now that the agreement for talks has been signed.
Three major bombing incidents took place immediately after the talks with the BRN were announced. Some observers said the attacks were intended by insurgents to warn the government that its peace process would fail.
There have been no major incidents since then but violence remains a daily fact of life for local residents. In Narathiwat, a 15-year-old boy was injured by gunfire from suspected militants on Friday night.
Four men on two motorcycles opened fire around 8pm when about 10 students were playing basketball at a playground in Sungai Padi district, said Pol Col Wutthipong Yenjit, superintendent of Sungai Padi police station.
Tripat Warunee, a 15-year-old ninth grader, was hit in the left hip and was rushed to hospital where he remains in critical condition.
The gunmen fled the scene after shooting.
Police found 15 spent M16 cartridges at the scene.
In Yala province, meanwhile, suspected insurgents set fire to two closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed on power posts in Than To district.
Police said the suspected insurgents torched car tyres and hung them on the cameras.
Police believed the fires were started by a youth movement group which opposes the peace talks agreement made between Thai authorities and the BRN.
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